Sunday, February 28, 2016

The balm that soothes

What is the highest, best use for social media?

In my opinion, when we take this powerful tool to amplify our ability to lift and support one another in our most difficult, most vulnerable moments, social media reaches its zenith: to help a distant, near-forgotten friend celebrate a milestone birthday, to console a colleague upon the sudden loss of his/her mate-for-life, to recognize the achievements of an individual or group upon the completion of a meaningful accomplishment, to listen and hear the REAL story in a loved one's day, not just the one that's being told overtly, to provide comfort to a weary, cynical world when no other comfort appears to be forthcoming, to celebrate selflessness and humanity when they are in woefully short supply.

When our friend and colleague, Rusty, posts a photo of his partner-in-life, Steve, declaring that they are "going out to eat" for the first time in months, he is declaring their joy. But unless you or a loved one has endured head and neck cancer or worse, the medical treatments for head and neck cancer, I'm not sure you can fully comprehend just how joyful an occasion it is. Eating, chewing, swallowing, digesting are the components of a process we all take for granted. When cancer treatments have interrupted that process for months on end, the body must be retrained just as is when learning to walk again after an auto accident injures the spine. It's an arduous recovery for the victim and almost equally so for the caregiver. It's like climbing Mt. Everest on your hands and knees; every advance fought for, every advance a victory.

So, to see Steve at table, wan smile in anticipation of partaking in that most human of activities, I want to cheer him on! He has fought for this moment and he hasn't done it alone.

For a long time, I've known my friend Rusty to be truly extraordinary. After 30 years of friendship, I'm learning how truly extraordinary Rusty is.

I send my love, support and best wishes to Steve and Rusty. I celebrate this victory with them from my little room in Brazil where, for a few minutes, we were back on the path together, where I reminisce about a similar path with my own dad, just a few years ago.

Love may not be the "cure" but it is most certainly the balm that soothes. In the end, isn't that all we have, all we need, as we approach our destinations together?

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